It is said that too much of anything is a bad thing, and the same is true for experimentation as well. Throughout the 2014 IPL, the Rajasthan Royals had been on a merry ride of chopping and changing various combinations, batting orders and bowling lineups. This had cost them a number of matches, and yet they never seemed to care. The situation came to such a head that their place in the playoffs, that had looked assured a few days back, appeared to be in jeopardy heading into the game against a resurgent Mumbai Indians. The task was tough for the Mumbai Indians, though. They had to win, and win big at that, in order to be able to upstage the Rajasthan Royals and go on to the next stage. In the end, on May 25, 2014 at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai achieved just that.
Team composition: Mumbai made one change to the team from the last game. They brought in Corey Anderson instead of Marchant de Lange. Rajasthan dropped Stuart Binny, Rahul Tewatia and Vikramjit Malik for this game and brought in Abhishek Nayar, Ankit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni for this game.
Batting: The Royals batted first after being put to bat by the Indians, who were looking to chase in an effort to improve their net run rate. The Royals got to a decent total of 189 for 4 in 20 overs. Sanju Samson (74 from 47 balls) and Karun Nair (50 from 27 balls) were the architects of the total. Towards the end, Brad Hodge and James Faulkner also played important innings to boost the total.
Anderson had been bought with much fanfare by the Indians in the 2014 IPL auction, but he had been unable to perform so far. However, in this game he appeared as the saviour for the franchise and showed exactly why he was picked. He smashed 95 from just 44 balls and hit 9 boundaries and half-a-dozen sixes. Ambati Rayudu (30 from 10 balls) also made an important contribution in the end.
Bowling: Jasprit Bumrah was the best bowler on show for MI, with 1 for 30. Harbhajan Singh (1 for 43), Shreyas Gopal (1 for 36 in 3 overs) and Kieron Pollard (1 for 33 in 3 overs) picked up the other wickets to fall in the RR innings.
For the RR, Kulkarni (2 for 42) and Kevon Cooper (2 for 38) were the only wicket takers. All the others went through a lot of punishment – Faulkner (none for 54 in 3.4 overs), Watson (33 runs in 2 overs) and Pravin Tambe (none for 25 in 2 overs) were all below par and in the end it really hurt the team’s prospects of going to the next round.
Where do the teams go from here?
The Mumbai Indians would be taking on the Chennai Super Kings in the eliminator a few days from now at their home turf. The team will be happy with how its batsmen and spinners are performing. However, its threadbare seam attack is an area of concern. The Chennai Super Kings are good enough to exploit any gap in a team and Mumbai Indians would do well to think of ways to cover up the problems in this area – if need be they can bring in Praveen Kumar instead of Pragyan Ojha, who has not really performed as per the high standards he sets for himself. Maybe that will balance their attack a bit and give the team an additional batsman lower down the order.
The Rajasthan Royals had a fantastic outfit and without the experimentation, they would have gone the distance like they did in 2008. They needed to have a set combination, where every player had a definite role to play. In hindsight they should also have made Rahane the captain, as his calm demeanor would have had a better effect on the team’s fortune as compared to that of Shane Watson, who barely found his way in the tournament. Some tough decisions need to be taken so that the team fares better than how it did in this year’s edition.